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The Internet Government

FCC Chair: It's Ok For ISPs To Discriminate Traffic 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the pay-per-bit dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember when the ex-cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler was appointed to the FCC chair back in May of 2013? Turns out he's currently gunning for Internet Service Providers to be able to 'favor some traffic over other traffic.' It would set a dangerous precedent, considering the Open Internet Order in 2010 forbade such action if it fell under unreasonable discrimination. The bendy interpretation of the 2010 order is apparently aimed somewhat at Netflix, as Wheeler stated: 'Netflix might say, "I'll pay in order to make sure that my subscriber might receive the best possible transmission of this movie."'"
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FCC Chair: It's Ok For ISPs To Discriminate Traffic

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  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#45602431) Homepage
    If I am Netflix, Google/YouTube, Amazon, etc. and an ISP comes to me asking for money for preferential treatment, I would just say: "Pay me $1/subscriber, or I will block your users from my site--you know, just like how you pay ESPN for their content..." I find it hard to believe these sites need ISPs more than ISPs need these sites.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:16PM (#45602715)

    The BBC's iPlayer in the UK has threatened any ISP who tries this with being put on a name and shame list. []

    How long before this happens in the USA forcing the ISPs to back pedal and pretend nothing happened?

  • Re:News to me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crunchygranola (1954152) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:33PM (#45602893)

    Cable companies are goverment enforced monopolies in most of the country....

    In my community the local government is trying to get Verizon FIOS to lay cable and provide service to challenge Charter, but Verizon is not interested.

    Cable companies like to claim their monopolies are "enforced" by government, but really cable companies are perfectly happy with having the map carved up into highly profitable monopoly fiefdoms.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:49PM (#45603065)

    While I tend to agree with most people posting and I'm generally in favor of net neutrality, I also like playing devil's advocate, looking at both sides.

    My SSH connection uses about 0.001 Mbps. Latency on SSH is really annoying, because it means each time you type on key you have to wait for that letter or number to show up on the screen. So for SSH you use very, very little bandwidth, but it needs to be low latency.

    Netflix is opposite - it uses up 1,000 times more bandwidth, and latency doesn't matter at all (though jitter does). During peak hours, when the ISP is 1 Mbps short of perfect performance in a certain area, does it make more sense to annoy the shit out of 500 customers using SSH and other interactive low bandwidth applications, or should the one customer's Netflix packets get queued, which he won't even notice. (The Netflix movie will just begin one second later).

    Given the very real choice of annoying 500 customers who aren't asking for much bandwidth vs. an imperceptible difference in one customer's movie, I think the choice is obvious. Better to not annoy any customers by giving the interactive packets priority.

    That's what I'd want my ISP to do even if both connections are mine. I'd much rather have an unnoticeable 1% quality reduction in the YouTube video I'm watching than have lost or slow packets in my SSH. I WANT my ISP to discriminate between low priority, high bandwidth sites (video) versus high priority interactive.

    It might also be useful to get real and talk about what this actually means in practice. YouTube and Netflix are HALF of the traffic load. Without those two, the existing infrastructure would deliver everything else TWICE as fast. Philosophical discussions are interesting, but at the end of the day, would you rather get stuff done much, much faster and allow the cat video to buffer for 1.5 seconds?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:54PM (#45603137)

    So let's say we didn't let the FCC have any authority over the Internet. What then? ISPs would just ignore net neutrality.

  • Your local government has picked Charter to be the local monopolist. The solution isn't to get Verizon to lay lines, it's to allow alternative cable providers to operate. If it comes down to it, require Charter to sell access to their lines. If Charter throws a fit, see how they like running cable without government granted right-of-ways.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:19PM (#45603363)

    You know what, sure, let's let ISPs discriminate traffic. Let's let them outright block any site that doesn't pay them enough. But in exchange, they lose their safe harbor protection.

    So anyone who launches a DoS or other "attack" over that ISP? They're partially liable. After all, they could have slowed or stopped that attack.

    Anyone pirates anything? Liable. If they're blocking sites for their own purpose, they can obviously block illegal downloads as well, right?

    Somebody posts a threat on Facebook? Cyber-bullying? LIABLE. Fraud? LIABLE.

    Basically, if it's illegal and done through an Internet connection provided by that ISP, that ISP is a co-defendant in any civil or criminal suit.

    Of course, the only way for an ISP to operate in such a legal environment would be to block everything by default, and only whitelist acceptable sites. Which of course cannot include anything with user-generated content - no Facebook, no Wikipedia, no Ebay. Of the 23 sites in my bookmarks bar, the only one that probably wouldn't get blocked is Wolfram Alpha.

    So sure! Let ISPs start filtering traffic - as long as they take responsibility for anything that they allow through.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"